Not only should you ask an attorney to help you draft a health care directive, this directive should be a written document separate and apart from your will. Placing your health care directives in a will does not make practical sense, since your will is typically discovered after your death – not prior to it. Furthermore, your attorney should place your funeral and burial wishes in a separate document for those reasons.
You can take care of your future health care needs, in case of incapacitation, by drafting a health care proxy or living will. Serving two related but also different purposes, these two documents can help you prepare for an unforeseen medical circumstance, a hospitalization, a terminal illness or an incapacitating event. A health care proxy allows you to appoint another adult to make medical decisions on your behalf, in case you are mentally unable to do so. A living will allows you to make your own decisions regarding the medical procedures you would like, or refuse in case of a mental incapacitation.
A person with a legal appointment to make health care decisions through a health care proxy has specific decision-making powers. You can allow this person to terminate life support, continue life support, or make any other health care decisions if you are unable to do so. Living wills in New York do not have to incorporate standard form language pursuant to any state statute. However, living wills and health care proxies must contain clear and convincing evidence of what your needs were prior to the incapacitating event. In other words, if your health care proxy or living will was not clearly drafted, it is subject to a legal challenge, which is an important reason to obtain legal help in drafting these documents.
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